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Standing Up with a Stand-Up Desk

Stand-up desks are offering a range of benefits to computer users. The desk forces you stand up to use the computer keyboard and to see the monitor. In the standing position, you are relieving the aches and pains in back muscles that can be caused by being in a slouched position or when your back is being held in an unnatural manner while typing.

A stand-up desk can also improve your posture when placed at the right height. With the computer monitor set at slightly above eye level, it forces you to keep your head up so you don’t slouch your back or shoulders. You end up improving your core strength for better posture. In addition, at this height, you can also help prevent eye strain.

Besides improving posture and your vision, you may also find other benefits. While standing, you are more likely to walk about on occasion. This walking will prevent you from having a sedentary lifestyle that could be a factor in causing you to gain more weight. You end up burning more calories throughout the day while keeping muscles and joints strong.

Take Your Time with Stand-Up Desks

It usually isn’t a good idea just to jump into the stand-up desk trend where you are standing for eight hours right off the bat. You will want to ease into it so your body gets used to standing for longer and longer moments throughout the day while typing at the keyboard. Start at standing for 20 minutes. Then add more time when you feel comfortable. Eventually, it will then become a welcome routine as you won’t end up straining your body too quickly.

Stand-up desks can offer you a range of benefits to get your body up from the office desk or couch and moving about more. Check out the types of stand-up desks that are available and decide on a setup that fits into your needs. Some stand-up desks simply have a shelf for the monitor and a place for the keyboard. Others have multiple shelves to hold other items such as printers, a wireless mouse, scanners, work binders and other items. You may even decide to incorporate treadmills and stationary bikes into your routine for additional exercise opportunities.

Is Deep Tissue Massage Right for You?

When people get a massage, they imagine relaxing under a towel as the massage therapist works to relieve the aches and pains in joints to loosen up muscles as the tension goes away. Yet many people get scared when they hear that it may cause pain when it is performed. Finding out what deep tissue massage is, understanding the benefits, and knowing why it is not for the faint of heart will allow you to decide if you want to have this treatment done to your own body.

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is where a massage therapist manipulates the deep layers of soft tissues as well as muscles in the body. There is more pressure to a deep tissue massage because they have to go through the top layer of muscle to reach the lower layers. The massage therapist will use direct pressure as well as warm oils to help relax the body.

A deep tissue massage is designed to help people who experience chronic pain and aches in muscles and joints to relieve the pressure. Many people also get a deep tissue massage if they suffer from lower back pain, or if they have tension in the upper back, neck area, or shoulders.

Why Are People Uneasy with Deep Tissue Massages?

Since a deep tissue massage targets a deeper tissue layer, people who get this technique will often tense up, which causes muscles to react by increasing tension. There is normally discomfort when the session begins if the soft tissue layers have inconsistencies with tense places. It can take several sessions before the deep tissue massage begins to loosen and relax the muscles, as the therapist will modify their technique to work with the patient’s comfort levels.

However, a person with a low tolerance for pain may not be able to deal with the amount of pressure that is applied to the body for them to gain the benefits from the massage. If they are constantly tensing their muscles in anticipation of the discomfort, their muscles never have the chance to relax, hampering the massage therapist’s session. So it might take multiple sessions for them to get the same results as someone else who has a higher threshold for pain.

Is it Right for You?

If you have never had a massage session before, you don’t want to start out with getting a deep tissue massage. It would be better to get other massage techniques and work your way up to a deep tissue massage once your body became used to the massage therapist working the muscles and tissues of the body. You may decide to get one if you enjoy the deeper pressure that a deep tissue massage provides and your body can relax and find comfort with the release of tension in muscles. It will depend on your pain threshold and the reason for the treatment.

Are You Hydrated Enough?

Water is the most essential part of human life, without it we would not survive. It makes up over half of your body weight and you lose water every day just by breathing, going to the bathroom, sweating and if you are physically active. Every cell, tissue, and organ depend on water to work properly. There has always been a belief that each person needs 6-8 glasses of water a day, but it differs from person to person. Generally, most healthy individuals can stay hydrated simply by drinking water whenever they feel thirsty, while other people require more water intake than the average 6-8 glasses a day. Other drinks and foods contain water and can be useful sources of hydration, however, there are other factors with those things that you must consider, like the added sugars and extra calories those foods and drinks contain. Some foods can dehydrate you, especially things that contain high sodium and fat.

One of the best ways to measure whether you are dehydrated or not is to look at the color of your urine. Any dark yellow or dark amber colored urine is a good indication that you are dehydrated. The optimal urine color is either colorless or a very light yellow, both indicate that your body is sufficiently hydrated.

We usually receive warning signs when our body isn’t properly hydrated, and those signs can start to show up gradually or they can come on quickly, depending on how dehydrated you are as well as other factors including weather, environment, etc. If you are dehydrated, acting and knowing what to do is very important. Warning signs that may indicate you are dehydrated include but aren’t limited to the following;

  • Extreme thirst
  • A headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dark urine
  • Little to no urine, infrequent trips to the bathroom
  • No tears when crying
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

Some people don’t like to drink water and others find the tastelessness rather boring, so they don’t try to drink much of it. Because it is a necessary part of life, we’ve pulled together some great suggestions to help those of you that struggle to stay hydrated. The following tips can help;

  • Drink water on a schedule, set certain times throughout the day or every hour on the hour
  • Carry a water bottle with you during the day so you always have the option to take a sip
  • Add some lemon or lime slices to the water to give it a little flavor
  • When eating out, drink water instead of cola or other beverages
  • Be sure to drink water before you exercise, during your exercise activity and after your workout
  • Drink tea, green tea and chamomile are great options for hydration

 

The Benefits of Walking

Staying fit doesn’t mean you have to become a runner or purchase a gym membership to get and stay healthy. Walking is an easy and beneficial way to improve your overall health, trim your waistline and feel an overall sense of well-being. Walking for 30 minutes a day has proven to prevent and manage various health conditions and diseases. High blood pressure is one condition that is greatly reduced with consistent low-impact exercise like walking. Considered to be on of the most underrated forms of exercise, walking is a wonderful way to improve your mood, reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions and keep your body looking great. Walking can also help with arthritis pain by reducing inflammation and stiffness in your joints. Here are a few other health benefits walking provides;

  • If done every day, walking boosts the immune system by strengthening the cells that attack bad bacteria in your body, meaning fewer sick days
  • Good for your brain and helps with the ability to think clearly and protect memory
  • Helps reduce mental stress and improve mental health
  • Reduces body fat
  • Increases heart rate and blood flow, strengthening the organ
  • Increases the functioning of the lungs
  • Helps you look younger by tightening up sagging skin and firming muscles
  • Reduces your risk of cancer

The warmer months are a perfect time to start your routine of walking 30 minutes a day and by the time the colder months roll around, you’ll be used to your daily jaunts you won’t want to give them up simply because it’s a bit colder out. Whether you walk at a moderate pace or prefer brisk walking, it can all benefit you. Scientists have studied the benefits of walking and discovered the people who take at least a 30-minute walk a day have an easier time accessing their creative juices and often get creative sparks while on walks. This physical activity can also help with back pain and stiff joints and joint pain. Here are some tips to start a successful walking program that fit your lifestyle.

  • Pick a time of day that works for your schedule that you can stick to every day
  • Exercising in the morning can get your creativity a kick-start
  • Walk with a partner, friend or co-worker, it’s a terrific way to enjoy conversation while exercising
  • Make sure you have comfortable, supportive shoes that don’t give you blisters
  • Don’t push it, start out at a steady pace and only increase intensity as you gain strength and endurance
  • Regular walking every day is most beneficial but if you can’t complete a daily walk, make sure it’s at least five days a week
  • If your walking form is correct, it can improve balance and coordination as well strengthen bones

The benefits of walking are endless and once you’ve integrated the habit into your busy life, you will wonder why you didn’t start the routine years ago. Grab a friend, family member or pet and hit the street, you’ll be glad you did!

A Few Simple Solutions for Preventing Back Injuries

There is a common myth that you should avoid activity when experiencing back pain and this belief can cause unnecessary, prolonged pain for some people. Often the back-pain people experience is triggered by weak muscles that don’t have the necessary strength to perform the movements being done. You can minimize back pain by strengthening your back, stomach (core), hips and thigh muscles, which will, in turn, distribute the stress of the activity throughout your body instead of placing it all in a concentrated area, namely the back muscles.

Stretching and Strengthening

Stretching your legs, especially your hamstring muscles, will help with back pain because the more flexible the leg muscles are, the more motion you have in your pelvis, which takes pressure off your lower back muscles. The tighter the hamstrings, the tighter the hips and pelvis, which translates to restricted lower back muscles. Flexibility helps by lengthening the muscles, giving more motion to the joints which helps in lifting and physical activity. Strong muscles also play a significant role in protecting against injury and the stronger the muscle, the quicker the recovery if you do get injured.

Use Proper Safety Equipment and Lifting Techniques

Before lifting, take a few minutes to evaluate what you are about to do and identify the safest way to execute the maneuver. If you are lifting a heavy object that is awkward in shape, consider asking for help or look at alternative options for moving the object. Perhaps there is a way to distribute the weight of the object, so it is easier to lift by adding support handles to either side, so you can carry the object without fear of your hands slipping off as you carry it. Adjust the height of the object being moved if necessary, so you can reduce the strain bending over can cause. When lifting, don’t bend at the waist and only use your upper body strength. Instead, bend your knees and use the strength in your legs to help power the maneuver. Keep in mind you don’t want to twist as you lift, twisting can cause injuries and put your safety at risk while you are holding something heavy.

Preventing back injuries isn’t always possible but if you consider including the strengthening of muscles, using proper safety equipment and asking for help when lifting or moving things that are heavy, your chances are significantly reduced. Not only will you avoid potential injuries, you will also improve your performance whether it is successfully loading a house full of furniture into the moving van or planting flowers in your yard.

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How to Stretch Properly with Dynamic Stretching

As the weather gets warmer, sometimes our attention to stretching diminishes simply because our muscles already feel “warmed up.” But this can be dangerous for anyone whether you are a competitive athlete or just out for a non-strenuous afternoon hike. The research has changed throughout the years and what was once yielded as the best way to warm-up has drastically changed as we’ve discovered more about the mechanics of our bodies. The school of thought for a long time was to stretch before your workout, basically forcing your cold muscles to warm up without any notice. This is no longer recommended as it can cause injuries and diminish your overall performance.  Instead, giving your body a mild aerobic intro gets blood flow to the tissue, so the muscles are warmed up and ready for the demands of stretching. A five-minute slow jog or a brisk walk is recommended, which will increase the blood flow and get the muscle fibers nice and warm. Technique is important when stretching and dynamic stretches are considered more effective than remaining still and holding a stretch for a period. Dynamic stretching is stretching where motion is involved. Consider trying some of the following dynamic stretches after your five-minute aerobic warm-up and keep in mind if you are recovering from an injury, it’s best to speak with your doctor or physical therapist before trying anything new.

Lean Lunges

Lean lunges help to loosen up your hips and psoas muscles while simultaneously activating the calves, gluteus muscles and hamstrings. You lean into a basic lunge while moving forward while raising the arm of the leg you have stretched out in the lunge. This should be done with slow, controlled movement to avoid injury.

Arm Circles

This stretch is essential because your shoulder joint has the most range of motion of any joint in the human body, and not warming it up properly could result in injuries. Doing this stretch without added weight is effective or you can add a little weight by holding hand weights, dumbbells or weight plates to increase the demand on the muscles. Circling each arm in forward circles for several reps and then doing backward circles for the same amount of reps, gives your muscles a chance to warm-up throughout the entire joint.

Front to Back Leg Swing

The leg swing is relatively easy to do and focuses stretching on the hamstrings and quads. Support yourself with one arm while swinging your opposite leg forward then backward. The idea is to keep your leg straight as it moves forward and stretches the hamstring, then as it comes back and bends, try kicking yourself in the butt, which will stretch your quads. The muscles will start to warm up with each swing, so you can try to extend the stretch a bit further as you increase in reps, keeping in mind you don’t want to overstretch and cause an injury.

 The Power Skip

Most of us learned to skip at an early age and some of us probably haven’t done it since grade school, but this stretch exercise is one of the best full-body stretches you can do. To get the most out of your power skip, you want to skip across a flat field or park, preferably on grass so it’s a softer landing, and you want to focus on reaching for height rather than distance with each skip. Reach the opposite arm high into the air as your opposite leg comes up towards your chest, bringing your quad to a 90-degree angle. Use your other leg to push off the ground and shoot up into the air, reaching as high as you can go with your arm. Alternate legs and do 20 skips on each side.

Giving your body the proper warm-up helps increase your overall performance and shields you from potential injuries that might occur because of a cold muscle snapping or tearing. Dynamic stretching is a fantastic way to get your body in the mood for any physical activity by focusing blood flow to the tissues that will be called upon during your exercise. It’s important to know your body and not push yourself beyond your limits when exercising. Please consult with a physician or physical therapist before trying something new if you’ve had a recent injury, some stretching exercises might not be beneficial for your injury recovery and could potentially cause more damage if done incorrectly.

 

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Ashiatsu Massage: Putting Feet to Work to Relax Your Back

Daily life, our posture and our routines can be awful on our backs. You may experience aches and pains that only increase day by day. When such problems persist, it can begin to have a detrimental impact on your livelihood, as it can sap your energy and become mentally draining when you think about dealing with the pain for another day.

For decades, the art of massage has been proven to give relief to a person’s body. The strokes along the muscles can loosen tension, improve posture and help with blood flow. There are a range of massage techniques available and most rely on the hands to provide the massage process, but there is another technique that uses the feet for the treatment. This technique is called Ashiatsu massage.

What is Ashiatsu Massage?

Ashiatsu is a barefoot massage technique that requires the therapist to use their feet instead of their hands to perform the massage.  A therapist will have a person lay face down on a massage table. The therapist will use ropes, bars, stools or benches to balance themselves above the client. Then the therapist will use their feet to give strokes across the client’s body. The gravity and pressure allow the therapist to provide deep, long strokes over the body. Often oils, creams or lotions will be applied to the body prior to the Ashiatsu massage technique to further release the tension in muscles and to provide a more satisfying experience.

The Benefits of Ashiatsu Massage

Benefits of Ashiatsu Massage

Ashiatsu massage is a deep tissue technique used to provide pressure on the muscles to help elongate them. Since the therapist’s foot is broader than the hand as they are using their weight and pressure to target muscles, it provides wider strokes without causing enduring pain. In addition, the deep tissue technique can help improve blood circulation while relieving stress and aches that can cause muscle spasms.

Another area of the body that benefits from Ashiatsu massage are the lumbar nerves. The nerves along the lumbar region can gain more space when the foot pressure opens up and elongates the spinal region. Lastly, Ashiatsu massage allows the client’s body to have a freer range of motion and better posture with more relaxed muscles.

Learn More About Ashiatsu Massage

Not everyone should try Ashiatsu massage due to the added weight and pressure that is applied to the body with this deep tissue foot technique. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid this treatment. In addition, people with high blood pressure, advanced diabetes, a compromised immune system, acute kidney and liver conditions, are using certain medications, or had surgical implant surgery recently should also be aware of the dangers of Ashiatsu massage. If you have these conditions, speak with a therapist before obtaining treatment.

Create a Morning Routine to Set You Up for Success

You live in a world filled with routines. There are certain ways to perform your specific job and you may have an evening routine to put the kids to bed. Yet don’t forget about creating a morning routine to improve your health. When you make a morning routine, you can get your body in shape, relieve stress, and build up your energy. Here are some things that you should make sure to have in your morning health routine. 

Get the Small Things Out of the Way the Night before 

To have more time and to not feel stressed and rushed when getting up, do those small tasks the night before. Pack your lunch and meal prep for dinner items so you can get everything easily cooked up when getting home later. Also take out your attire for the day. 

Become Hydrated with Water 

Coffee is good when you need to wake up in the mornings. Yet water is better to hydrate your body. A nice glass of water can get rid of headaches and fatigue. 

Eat Breakfast Every Morning 

It is easy to skip breakfast when you are in a rush. Make it a morning routine to have something to eat, and to relax during the meal. You can build up your energy level so you don’t become tired by midmorning. Make sure you have a balanced diet. 

Put in Some Exercise 

Since you were able to free up more of your morning by doing some tasks the night before, you can now use that extra time to exercise. You can go for a jog, put in some yoga, bicycle around the block, or perform a range of other exercises to keep your body mobile and muscles strong. 

A morning routine is just what you need to make yourself feel better in the mornings and to keep up that energy level throughout the day. These simple tasks will become a great habit that the whole family can enjoy. 

3 Ways to End Work-Related Back Pain 

Whether you work behind a desk and at a computer all day, or in a factory or at a job site, you can experience work-related back pain that can begin to impact your work activities and home life. Tackling back pain has to become a priority as you will start to feel worse the longer that the back pain persists. Here are 3 ways to stop work-related back pain. 

Modify Activities to Stop Repetitive Movements 

Most often the pain occurs because you are doing a certain task so often without occasionally resting your back. Identify the movements that may be the reason for the back pain. Then modify your activities to relieve the tension in muscles so you are not doing the same movements and actions that exacerbates the problem. 

Lift and Carry Objects Carefully 

Using your back to lift heavy objects and carry them can cause aches and strains to muscles. Before picking up any object, evaluate the item’s weight and obtain help if it is too heavy for one person to lift safely. Then you want to lift the object using your legs as you stand up. Tighten the core muscles while carrying the object and hold it close to your chest while maintaining the natural curvature of your back. 

Improve Your Posture While Sitting and Walking 

You can relieve work-related back pain by not slouching while walking or sitting in front of a computer. You want to balance your weight evenly on your feet while standing. When sitting, have a chair that offers back support and remove bulky objects from pants pockets, such as thick wallets, that can cause unnecessary pressure to your back muscles. 

It is always advisable to see a medical professional if you are dealing with work-related back pain to determine the reason for the issue. The back pain could be an indication of a more serious medical condition or illness that needs to be immediately addressed. Once you have identified the cause, you can then use the best methods to stop the pain so you can feel better. 

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Why You Should Try Chiropractic Before Back Surgery

If you are experiencing chronic back pain from an old injury or other condition, it might feel like surgery is the only way out. Maybe you’ve tried medications and physical therapy with less-than-optimal side effects and lackluster results. We’re here to tell you, surgery is a major decision and you should be sure it is the right path for you. If you haven’t tried chiropractic yet, we urge you to give it a try before surgery. Often, just a few appointments can have dramatic effects. And the best part? It’s non-invasive.

Here’s why you should try chiropractic before surgery.

  1. The AMA (American Medical Association) recommends patients should try chiropractic adjustments before back surgery.
  2. In a study of 2,000 Washington State employees who suffered from a back injury at work, more than 40% who saw a surgeon first ended up having back surgery within three years. Only 1.5% of the patients who went to a chiropractor first ended up have surgery in three years.
  3. Surgery does not always work. And even if it does, you need to think about what your recovery time will look like. Strong drugs to help with post-surgery pain relief, mobility issues, time away from work and family and the things you love to do, are some of the downsides to surgery.
  4. Chiropractic should be your first line of defense against musculoskeletal pain. Your Bend chiropractor will work to find the root cause of your pain and treat your total body health, without drugs or invasive procedures.

If you are suffering from back pain and considering surgery, give your Bend chiropractor a call first. Let us take a look at your spine and listen to your story. There could very well be a path to health that does not involve an operating table.